Time Capsule Letter
Hey, Session 6 of Beachside Service Adventure!
It seems like just yesterday we were watching those gorgeous Junquillal sunsets together, chanting “Leader of the Day,” getting smoothies and nachos from the hotel bar and embarrassing ourselves to eat dinner first. The Beachside staff miss y’all so much! We hope that your summer in Costa Rica had a lasting impact on the ways you think about the world and your role in it. We hope you’ve continued to think about how to be responsible travelers, about the impact humans have on our beautiful planet, and you’ve shared those lessons with others!
Here’s a reminder of the goals you made with your mentor group on the last night:
ROW: Our one meaningful goal is represented by our acronym of PURA VIDA to change our attitudes back at home. We have realized how impactful our lives can be, how long and fruitful days can be and how we can make the most of our lives. We want to go back home bringing a new attitude of commitent, self-awareness, and curiosity. We want to start community service, care about world issues such as plastic use and be more engaged with our community. We want to travel and discover the world!
And here are some of our favorite whole group moments from this session:
-Do remember the first day when you were all so unfamiliar but you still bonded so quickly and joined the tables together at the first night of dinner?
-Do you remember getting “beach slapped” by the waves at Playa Junquillal?
-Do you remember seeing hundreds of sea turtles at Ostional during la Arribada, watching the female turtles lay hundreds of eggs while the sun set?
-Do you remember when Brendan and Jackson led the last Chow Circle and we all shared our favorite memories from the trip?
-The first lunch with mentor groups, then Bucket of Dreams!
-Tubing down the river
-Hot Springs and muddy paint brushes
-The traditional dance class that ended in an epic dance-off
-Sunbathing and then snorkeling with our noodles off the side of the catamaran
-Frontflips and backflips off the side of the catamarn
-Playing Assassin and never trusting when someone handed up something. Also, how was Kevin so good?
-“We’re hot, picante, chi-chi-chi-chileros!”
-Remember singing in the bus coming back from ziplining?
-Remember how beautiful Junquillal beach was and how lucky we were to get to see those wonderful sunsets?
-Get down, Mr. President!
Special ROW memories:
Remember when we had a challenge of planting 110 trees that sounded impossible at the beginning and we killed it? Team work makes the dream work.
Remember when the first day in mentor group we saw a cockroach and Alex jumped suddenly all over the place?
Remember Matt’s skills in the debate and how much fun we had?
Remember how we did not want to leave the mentor group talking about the danger of a single story and sharing ideas and thoughts?
Remember playing “what are the odds” at service and Matt took a scoop of dirt in his mouth?
Remember bonding with the kids beyond the language barrier?
Remember how incredible it was to work and learn with Albertino?
Special AVELLANAS memories:
-Do you remember when the boys tried to “fight each other” when they were blindfolded in bucket of dreams because they couldn’t see where anyone was?
-Will you return to Costa Rica to see the trees that we planted with Cindy and Frank in Los Pargos and at Playa Negro?
-Megan, Jake and Brendan: will you ever forget our jungle walk with Cindy (and her machete) where we picked up garbage and learned about the monkeys and crocodiles who lived along the path?
-Will you ever forget Raven’s birthday party at Pollito’s house, eating salty pineapple and drinking cold water after a solid day of beach cleanup with Gata (Cindy) and Rasta (Frank)?
-Do you remember Raven’s wonderful, open minded and loving speech in our last mentor group?
-Do you remember telling stories of self and sharing our life experiences (you are all interesting and have unique experiences, despite what you think!) and painting signage at Las Olas?
-Do you remember the “elite beach cleaning crew” sprinting down the coast with Frank to clean the northern part of the beach?
-Will you ever have fruit as fresh as the pineapple and watermelon that we ate at the restaurant after planting mango trees with Frank? Or the pineapple smoothies!?
Thanks for all the incredible memories! Keep exploring and asking questions– we are cheering you on in everything that you are going to do in this world!
Much love and pura vida,
Cassie, Sergio, Callie, & Daya
Friday August 16, 2019
Pura Vida, Family & Loved Ones!
Last night, almost our whole crew arrived to our beautiful home base in Playa Junquillal. We shared a traditional dinner of Casado (rice, beans, chicken, salad and plantains). After dinner, we took a night walk on the beach and visited the turtle hatchery and played several games.
Today, (Friday) all 16 of our students have finally arrived! We are so excited to start our last week of Beachside Service Adventures at our beautiful home base in Playa Junquillal, Costa Rica. With such a small group, we’re already making close friends and learning from one another.
Today was Orientation Day! Our 8am welcome circle began with a quick Spanish lesson on Costa Rican phrases, several energetic games and a mindful moment about eliminating expectations and having an open mind. After an orientation race between our two orientation teams, we announced our two service projects; students will be cleaning up beaches, planting trees, creating signage, teaching local students about the water cycle, and restoring the watershed.
Every student successfully completed the orientation photo scavenger hunt learning about environmental risks (ie. falling coconuts!), inventing the perfect disciplinary policy, hysterically acting out “code of conduct” skits, and learning about Costa Rican culture and how to be respectful travelers. All students also met their service/mentor groups today and started to discover the leadership curriculum focused on GLA’s leadership pillars.
We shared our first lunch together in our newly formed “mentor groups” (a typical dish of arroz con pollo). We discussed different styles of effective leadership and what types of leaders we aspire to be. The “Bucket of Dreams” activity entertained and challenged our students to actively learn about teamwork, support, and facing adversity. While students played soccer together, mentors completed a health check with each student to ensure everyone is happy, healthy, and enjoying themselves.
At 5:30, we took our daily walk to the beach to watch the beautiful sunset! We had our first “Chow Circle” where the leaders of the day introduced tomorrow’s Leadership Pillar, “Live Your Values”. We ate dinner in our new friend groups. During dinner, we announced the rules for our first round of “assassin”, a group game to learn names and encourage new friends. Mentor groups met up for the night to talk about what we value personally and as a group. We put those values to the test and came up with our own community contracts that we’ll abide by for the next 8 days.
It has been a very long day, but we are so excited to meet our local community organizations and start service learning tomorrow!
Your BSA Team,
Callie, Daya, Sergio and Cassie
Saturday August 17, 2019
Today started with an optional workout on the beach. Breakfast followed, and then the two service groups went to the work sites for their first day.
The ROW group planned out their workdays, prepared to teach local kids about the ecosystem, and made up educational games to play with the kids. They also picked up branches that will be used later in the week to prop up newly planted trees.
The Avellanas group painted signs, cleaned up trash around the area, and planted trees. They also got a chance to play soccer with the locals.
After the service groups returned to home base, they went to the beach and had fun in the waves. After the beach, a dance instructor came and taught everyone how to salsa which led to a lot of kids being pushed out of their comfort zones and showing off their dance moves.
We then had our daily chow circle, which was led by the leaders of the day. We talked about the schedule for tomorrow and our leadership pillar, which is living your values. The leaders of the day had come up with a challenge for the rest of the group, which was to think of an item that has personal value to you.
After dinner, we had our mentor groups in which we talked about our social media presences. A few kids also had the opportunity to share stories about their lives. The day finished off with some free time so we could relax with our new friends.
The group had lots of fun helping the community and visiting the beach. It was a great day and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.
By today’s leaders of the day,
Jake and Henry
Sunday August 18, 2019
Last night in our mentor groups, we learned about how to responsibly and appropriately post on various social media platforms. We had an early start today in order to enjoy the adventures to come as much as possible. Breakfast was at 6:15 am, and we ate scrambled eggs, rice and beans, bacon, muffins, cereal, and watermelon. Right at 7:00 am, we loaded onto a van for a two hour ride to go tubing. The river we went tubing on had over 20 rapids and took over an hour to ride through! The river was near a volcano, and the view down the river was spectacular. The temperature of the water was perfect, and every wave that splashed felt refreshing. Although it was a rushing current, almost everyone managed to get stuck on the rocks in the river.
After carrying the tubes back up to the start, we went to a buffet restaurant right across the street. The buffet was full of options ranging from sausage to homemade chips to a flavorful salad. The desserts were watermelon, honey pumpkin bread, pineapple, and delicious coconut cookies. After lunch, we visited the gift shop to buy souvenirs. Next, we hopped back on the van to go to the hot springs. On the way over, we got to walk on a suspension bridge overlooking the river. The springs raged from 98 to 104 degrees F. We had the cool opportunity to use paintbrushes and paint ourselves with mud. Unfortunately, it started to rain, and many people were forced to give up on waiting for the mud to dry. We also ran into a huge tarantula near the pools.
That finished up the eventful day, so we headed back to the home base. When we got back, we walked to the beach to enjoy a beautiful sunset. To finish off our day as leaders, we lead the chow circle in which the group gave compliments to others about something they did during the day. The pillar we discussed for that day was “being courageous” (as a leader) which we interpreted as not being afraid to step out of your comfort zone and stick to your own beliefs. We decided that a leader needs to be courageous because they are role models for other people. The challenge was to branch out and have a conversation with one of the other teens that you may not have talked to as much during the last few days. Lastly, we knighted the new leaders for the following day.
Vivian and Meghan
Monday August 19, 2019
This morning we had an optional workout for either running or yoga. After the workout, we started our day with breakfast with french toast and delicious fruit. At 7:45 we departed from home base to go to service. At ROW, we played games with kids and taught them about the environment while at Avellanes we cleaned up garbage along the beach with a local who later invited us back to his house for some refreshing snacks.
After service we all returned to home base and got ready to go to the beach. At the beach we played frisbee and swam in the waves. Unfortunately we had to leave due to an unexpected thunderstorm. When we got back, we had some free time to hang out and bond. We had a guest speaker talk to us about the history and her life in Costa Rica. After her presentation we played jeopardy to test our knowledge.
The pillar of today was finding solutions to any problem. The task we gave the group was to find creative solutions for any problems they may face through the day. At our leader of the day ceremony, we gave shoutouts, gave examples of a way we figured out solutions for our problems throughout the day, discussed the schedule for tomorrow and knighted our new leaders of the day.
Sending love to everyone back home,
Omar and Ava
Wednesday August 20, 2019
Today started with yoga for some and breakfast for all! The whole crew left for zip lining immediately after breakfast and enjoyed a calm bus ride. Everyone definitely got their workout in for the day walking to each platform while zip lining. After we got done zip lining, we ate fruit and drank tons of water!! On the bus ride to home base it was all laughter and music.
Both service groups left late in the afternoon and went to the beach to pick up some more trash. We split everyone into 3 groups to cover different sections of the beach to be more efficient. After we picked up trash for 2 hours we met kids by the school to play games with them. The kids really enjoyed all the games and their favorite part was throwing mud balls into the river. After the activities with the kids, we headed back to home base for dinner.
After dinner we learned about all different kinds of tourists and volunteers from Callie. Callie showed us a few educational videos, one that a lot of people enjoyed because it used humor to talk about a very important subject. For mentor groups, everyone was together and we talked about the benefits and consequences of GLA coming to a different community.
After mentor group everyone went off and did their own thing until lights out. Some went to the snack shop and some went to the ranchito to dance and talk with friends. Today was full of adventure and learning!
-by Raven, Alex, Lucie
Thursday August 21, 2019
August 21, 2019
The day started with a delicious breakfast, which included pancakes, gallo pinto & sausage. After, we headed to do our service where we had the amazing experience of planting trees, cleaning a beautiful local beach, and painting a mural. The ROW group broke a record of planting 120 trees in 2 1/2 hours! We came back to home base for lunch after hard working service hours, quesadillas & fries! Everyone enjoyed them. Then we had free time, in which some students went & took a dip in the pool, while others decided to rest.
After that we went to an indigenous museum in which we learned about how the Chorotega tribe used fruit shells, named Jicaras, in feasting and obtaining water, or anything they found a use for! At the museum we had a clay pottery workshop, in which a pottery artist taught the students about pottery & how they make it. Students then had the chance to make their own clay pottery and gained points for their own salsa team for the most creative creations. We then headed to home base, and did our normal afternoon routine. Which is our afternoon sunset meeting, in which we enjoy the beauty of the sunset at the beach. Then, our leaders of the day hosted the chow circle and knighted the next day leaders of the day! Thunder clap, and it was time for dinner.
-by Brenda, Kevin, & Jared
Our last day of service began with an optional 6 AM yoga workout as usual. At 7 AM we had a scrumptious breakfast of rice and beans, eggs, as well as fresh pineapple and watermelon.
At ROW we visited the plant nursery with Alberto. First, we mixed new soil that could improve the growth of the plants. Next, we filled small bags with this soil and planted various species of plants in them that will grow and be planted in the following months. Lastly, we said goodbye to Alberto, who provided us all with unique and incredible experiences throughout the week.
At Avellanas we started the day a bit differently than the other days where we took the signs and drilled holes in them as our service leader instructed. We also painted the backsides of them so they could be visible from both directions. We continued as usual cleaning the beaches as we planted a couple of mangrove trees and named them. We said goodbye to Frank who was a blast to work with and learn from during the last week.
At lunch we ate salad and tacos that could be filled with various toppings. Soon after, we went to the beach and had a lot of fun in the ocean.
We then drove to play tons of fun games with Frank, and also played a great soccer game between our salsa groups. Interacting with local children who joined was tons of fun!
Next, we visited a local woman named Yolanda’s house, where we tried to make our own empanadas. We were treated to great food and drinks, especially Costa Rican coffee…it slaps… and thanked Yolanda for her wonderful hospitality.
With great thanks to Daya, we had an amazing turn of events. We drove nearly an hour to another beach to see a mass migration of sea turtles as they laid their eggs on the beach. The experience was incredible and really a once in a lifetime type of sight.
Later, we ate dinner at the restaurant and had an abbreviated chow circle to go over the last day schedule and appoint our final leaders of the day.
We had free time until 10, where some of us decided to stargaze at the beach while others talked under the ranchito.
-by Matt and Julian
Friday August 23, 2019
For the last day of this phenomenal trip we really got to appreciate the world we live in and the people around us. In the morning, we climbed aboard a catamaran to sail over the ocean with some beautiful sites to see across the way.
After, we set anchor near the shore and everyone had a chance to swim in the ocean. Some of us got to snorkel over the reef and got to see various types of fish along the way.
By the time we made it back to home base it hit a lot of us that this is gonna be the last day with each other so we’re grateful that we spent so much time there reflecting and appreciating the experiences and memories we created here. This was really a once in a lifetime opportunity for everyone in the program this week and we hope everyone takes all these lessons and memories with them even beyond Costa Rica. Goodbye and Pura Vida.
By: Brendan and Jackson